Meta and Google cut staff through silent layoffs • The Register

Forget about quitting smoking. Meta and Google have learned the art of silent layoffs: telling staff to choose new roles after reorganizing or disbanding teams and running out of the reapplication process until some are out of work.

It’s still essentially a layoff, albeit a small one, and it’s less likely to grab attention or get widely reported. It’s similar to IBM, Oracle, and other companies that have made small, gradual cuts here and there in the past to put a broader general layoff plan under the radar. It could also foreshadow a greater staff reduction at some point.

The problems in Meta are well known, with the Facebook parent this year experiencing a drop in revenue and daily active users at some point, while admitting that he burned $ 10 billion in metaverse stuff and that his sales of ads have been substantially damaged by Apple’s push to allow iOS users to disable online tracking. Activity also increased in size during the pandemic, likely becoming bloated and cumbersome.

In response, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg called on his mega-body to take shape, increase heat, and lose dead weight, which led to things like the disbandment of his Responsible Innovation Team (RIT) at the start of this month.

This is where those quiet layoffs come into play.

Meta has a policy of giving employees, like those in RIT, 30 days to find a new role in the company, after which they are out of a job if somehow they haven’t secured a job. Since tech darlings like Meta usually set a relatively high level of hiring, it is assumed that staff are generally smart enough to support themselves and will find another team somewhere.

According to Meta employees and managers who spoke to The Wall Street Journal for a report published today, this process is quite typical, but something has changed: where before it was normal to quickly fill a new role, “reputable and strong workers. performance reviews are regularly purged. ”

If before the Meta shuffling took place without too many people losing their jobs, now also the competent and capable ones are shown at the door, in a great way. It is reported that Facebook wants to reduce costs by at least 10 percent, which means a reduction in employment. It is not only the problems that are let go, but the normal staff as well.

At Google, roughly half of the 100-plus employees at its Area 120 startup incubator had 90 days this month to find other jobs within the mega-corporation. In March, there was also internal pressure to give more than 100 people facing the cut in Google Cloud 180 days to find new teams, instead of 60. As with Meta, googlers are expected to find other teams where fit in.

A Google spokesperson told the WSJ that nearly 95% of workers who expressed an interest in staying have found new roles over time. Or, to put it another way, more than five percent did not and was cut. No doubt other parts of the workforce will, or have been, cut off in this way.

The cuts at Google come not long after CEO Sundar Pichai said the web giant’s productivity needed to be increased by 20%, a call that came just three months after the company slowed hiring after embarking on a race to recruitment during the coronavirus pandemic.

According to the WSJ story, Meta had 83,553 employees at the end of the second quarter of 2022, 32% more than in the same period last year. Google’s parent company Alphabet counted 174,014 heads in the second quarter, a 20.8% increase over the same period in 2021. Now both companies are apparently struggling to manage or get the most out of these new people.

Google’s CFO said earlier this year that headcount was the biggest spending driver for the company and Facebook’s leadership, and has made similar statements elsewhere. Amazon’s CFO said a first-quarter hiring boost during the Omicron phase of the coronavirus outbreak had also left his company understaffed.

Meta seemed to take a different approach to layoffs, with Zuckerberg ordering managers in June to aggressively lay off low-performing employees. As we wrote back then, this was likely a way for Meta to get through some layoffs without admitting that he was doing it, which attracts bad press and other negative attention.

This time it seems that Google and Meta have learned a lesson: don’t dump people and feed rumors about layoffs, or make statements confirming it. Instead, merge and close teams, tell the press you’re reassigning workers, shrug when displaced employees ask about those roles, and let them out of the system a couple of months later. ®

PS: This article was written from the perspective of the United States. We know that in other places, at least like the UK, companies by law have to make some effort, albeit symbolic, to find you another job within the org if you get laid off, in general. America, not so much.

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